Bios by Robert Charles Wilson

To inform my current novel-in-progress, I went to all the vendors at WorldCon, requesting books of biological takeover and spores from outer space. Bios was one of the recommendations.

There is a much more thorough review here, which you might want to look at, since I read Bios with impure motives. This is half-review, half encouragement to keep myself writing.

I was a little blocked on how to proceed with my story, caught in a dilemma of tone and theme. Reading something radically different in tone yet similar in topic, helped me see what I’m not trying to do. Don’t misunderstand. I think Robert Charles Wilson is a wonderful writer. His story is deft and I like the way he hints at a greater political universe, while retaining the dramatic tension of a “well-made play.” This story has a narrow focus, tight time lines and no way for his characters to escape. His world-building is impeccable.

Bios is a smallish book at 208 pages. It is set in a post-plague future, where mankind has spread to Mars and several small “Kuiper” colonies to survive. These rebellious post-Earth settlers are forced to work with each other and with surviving Earth humans on Isis. This post-colonial relationship breeds resentment and economic politics, side conflicts which enrich the classic main conflict: Man versus the environment.

Isis appears to be a planet of jungle paradises, snow-capped peaks and clear water. It is the landscape Zoe has been cloned, surgically upgraded and trained to study. Her cheerful loyalty to the “Family,” a dynasty which controls much of Earth, is maintained by an internal hormone regulator. Part of the emotional interest in this book comes from an act of sabotage. A surgeon, in an act of rebellion, removes Zoe’s “thymostat,” on the eve of her launch to Isis.

On Isis, the microbes have evolved to be so aggressive, a breath of the air liquifies a human in minutes. This high toxicity makes the planet a profitable pharmacopoeia. Unfortunately, the outside life is starting to find it’s way into the research stations.

Zoe, with her upgraded immune system and superior exploration suit, looks like she can survive this bios on her own. She is so confident, she interacts with the dominant life form, a social insectoid which reminds her of humans. This mistake, based on human prejudices, allows her to discover the spiritual secret of Isis: intelligent life in the rest of the universe is radically different from that on Earth.

I have to recommend Bios. It’s a page-turner that constructs a unique and compelling fictional world.

Happy reading.

@ontent by Cory Doctorow

If you like SF or issues of fair use for intellectual property, it’s likely you have read some of Doctorow’s opinion pieces online. If you haven’t, he has collected many of his previously published essays into book form, which is free to download. I bought an autographed, paper copy of @ontent at WorldCon. I’m old-fashioned and I love paper books.

This book of essays is such compelling reading, I found myself devouring it like a thriller fan, losing sleep to find out what he would say next. It’s so cleverly written and so well-argued, I’m not sure how to review it. Let’s just say his are some of the sanest and most reasonable opinions you can find on peer-to-peer file sharing and ebooks.

His views are radical, in that he does not support the big recording labels and book publishers in efforts to prevent piracy, but his opinions are practical. Encryption technology doesn’t work and treating even the most naive and law-abiding citizen like a pirate for wanting to copy a song onto several computers (such as the case with DRM-protected music from iTunes) is wrong. It should be easy to back up our hard drives and upgrade our hardware, without losing access to our music.

For the artists, many of whom cannot make a living simply from writing fiction or recording music, it has always been necessary to publicize and make money via other means. These are areas where artists benefit from having a personal dialogue with a community of fans. To build such a community, word of mouth, sometimes in the form of file sharing and downloads, is helpful.

I have reversed my opinion on this issue twice in my life. As a teenager and in my twenties, I believed in the old medieval ethos where ideas were free and belonged to everybody. In the history of literature, stories are used, reused and reshaped by every story teller with no apologies. Why then, according to Doctorow, shouldn’t fan fic be valued highly?

I think most authors would be honoured to have fan fic devoted to the worlds they create. Brilliant writers inspire imitators but each work is unique. Some great works of fiction inspire new genres. Should we tell new writers there is something wrong with rewriting the story of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? These stories have become archetypes in our society and whole fiction genres have grow out of them. Who is to say a fan fic writer won’t be the one to create the next Dracula or Sherlock Holmes?

For a while, perhaps influenced by my very law-abiding job and influenced by my ambitions as a writer, I thought that copyright should be respected by everyone in every case. People should not steal money from artists by not paying royalties. Certainly the professional development I have received from my board of education stressed the respect for copyright. It was all about teaching children to use technology without the unauthorized use of copyright materials. I’m all for teaching children to respect artists and the hard work they must do to make a living but I’m waiting for a better set of regulations.

In Canada, we have had some ideas about fair use that worked. Cancopy was a program where writers received a certain amount of money based on their popularity because it was expected that some people would photocopy books. In the same way, a certain amount of money was charged on blank cassettes and paid back to recording artists based on their airplay. This system recognised that people liked to record songs from the radio and create their own ‘mix tapes.’ Maybe something similar could be done for ebooks.

Right now Access Copyright is working on the Google settlement for copyright holders who have had their work digitized, mostly without their permission. Nearly every book published before January 2009 is affected by this settlement. The date to opt out and retain your right to sue Google independently is September 4, 2009. For more information from the Canadian point-of-view, look at this article on the Access Copyright webpage.

One of Doctorow’s main points is copyright is always changed to catch up with new technology. Whatever law is in place at the moment, was written in reaction to the last wave of technology. He cites the introduction of the player piano (which hurt performers and sheet music printers), the radio (which hurt Vaudeville acts), or P2P sharing (which is hurting CD sales). I eagerly await new developments in this area. In the meantime, why don’t you download a copy of Doctorow’s book for free and make your mind up for yourself?

WorldCon – Aug 6-10

From WorldCon I went into preparation mode for a weekend spent at the cottage with friends. I did some writing and read a book to review (more about that in a later post) but I haven’t felt like blogging about WorldCon. The experience was too overwhelming to sort out in a week. I got lost in the sheer size of this convention. What inspiration. What overstimulation. At WorldCon, nobody has to justify his passion for “what if” stories or her enthusiasm for social critique. Speculation in fiction is why we’re all there.

Every day there were back-to-back workshops and many of my favorites occurred at the same time. I failed to meet Mur Lafferty of the ISBW podcast or take any of the three workshops on podcasting because of scheduling conflicts. I went to every workshop I could on writing and publishing SF and a few interesting readings and launches. The only disappointment was a panel on race in SF that never really got down to the nitty gritty.

I enjoyed buying books and won a couple as well. A stack of new novels looms down at me from my dresser, threatening to smother me as I sleep – and that’s not including any horror titles.

I enjoyed speaking with all sorts of writers, fans and editors at the parties Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. These were, in many ways, both more fun and more important than the sessions in terms of learning about the SF & F book industry. I loved every minute of it.

I will be attending AdAstra in Toronto whenever I can from now on. After going for the first time this year, I have a few activity ideas for next year’s organizers. Space themed karaoke anyone? How about a real-time writing experiment with duelling computers?

I came away from WorldCon full of ideas. I write most days and jot down short story ideas most mornings. I’ll never live long enough to get them all written into stories, but that’s fine. I’m starting to recognize which are worth developing, as far as I can tell. I haven’t submitted a short story in a long time but as soon as my current manuscript is done, I’ll take a break from it and look through my new idea file. A couple of weeks of short story writing should help me get into a fresh mindset before I start editing.

I managed to meet a few of my writing goals at WorldCon. I got my work critiqued and came away with a better sense of how to make it better. I was also invited to join a private LiveJournal group of writers who also got critiqued at WorldCon.

It wasn’t exactly a goal but I was happy to meet a lot of interesting people at the convention. My friend R. introduced me around and we also met up with people I recognised from AdAstra. R. seems to know everybody on the Canadian SF & F scene.

My big goal was to pitch an editor and have him agree to read my novel when it’s finished. I did explain my novel concept to an American editor, badly because I didn’t rehearse my elevator pitch. He was encouraging and gave me a favorable response in terms of my topic and approach. He also gave me a few tips on how I should have pitched a busy editor! This occurred on Sunday Aug. 9, the last evening of the convention. The other highlight of that night was the Hugo Awards.

I wasn’t sure I would like the Hugos. The room was so big we had to sit halfway back and watch the action on jumbo screens they had set up on either side of the stage. It was amusing to hear the winners announced in both French and English, despite the winning entries being English language books, films, television shows, short stories etc. What really made it for me was the excitement of those around me. Somehow I managed to sit near a group of Toronto insiders, many of whom I had met at Ad Astra and who had worked at Toronto’s well-loved Bakka SF bookstore at one time or another. This group of writers, booksellers and fans were dressed up for the after parties and pumped up for the awards. It was more exciting than the Oscars, for me at least.

I care more about books than Hollywood movies. I’ve never been an autograph hunter or a fawning fan. That kind of behaviour is demeaning and disrespectful. If Will Smith walked down Yonge Street in Toronto, despite admiring his work and thinking he’s pretty cute, I’d do the polite thing and pretend not to notice him. I didn’t line up to get autographs at the convention either, although I did buy a few autographed copies of books at the parties. It’s fun getting a book autographed at a party by someone who still enjoys signing. What I don’t like is waiting in line for a popular novelist like Neil Gaiman. He has so many fans by now, one more can’t make a difference to him.

Here are the winners according to the Hugo Awards Website:

  • Best Novel: The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)
  • Best Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus”, Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)
  • Best Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom”, Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)
  • Best Short Story: “Exhalation”, Ted Chiang (Eclipse Two)
  • Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008, John Scalzi (Subterranean Press)
  • Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E Andrew Stanton & Pete Docter, story; Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon, screenplay; Andrew Stanton, director (Pixar/Walt Disney)
  • Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Joss Whedon, & Zack Whedon, & Jed Whedon, & Maurissa Tancharoen, writers; Joss Whedon, director (Mutant Enemy)
  • Best Editor Short Form: Ellen Datlow
  • Best Editor Long Form: David G. Hartwell
  • Best Professional Artist: Donato Giancola
  • Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal
  • Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
  • Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede edited by John Klima
  • Best Fan Artist: Frank Wu

And the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (presented by Dell Magazines): David Anthony Durham

Happy reading!

About SF free workshop at World Con in Montreal

Anticipation is the name of World Con this year. It is being held in Montreal and I am very excited to be going. I am not a regular convention attendee but after having a great time at Ad Astra this year, I decided I could not miss the opportunity to see the 67th World Science Fiction Convention while it was in Canada.

Eiffel Tower model, Montreal, March 2009.

I am volunteering to help out at a free SF workshop for teachers. I have designed a unit teachers can adapt for their classes in grades 7-10. I teach a grade 8 gifted class, so I am used to customizing the activities and reading materials to different levels. My unit is a mix and match affair around themes of teen identity, societal power, civil liberties, corporate and government interests, high tech for good and evil etc. Instructors can choose books and activities according to their needs. Most of the other presenters are published SF authors but there are also librarians and teachers. I figure I’m going to learn a lot from them.

Julie E. Czerneda, the keynote speaker, suggested that I help out when I ran into her at Ad Astra. I’ve since read one of her books and one of her anthologies and I was very impressed. I’m looking forward to her opening address on using SF to teach science.

Please help spread the word about this free workshop. You can sign up by emailing aboutsfworkshop@gmail.com. After 5:00 pm, AboutSF workshop participants without Anticipation memberships may purchase a $25 special membership to attend World Con for the rest of the evening.


AboutSF’s Teaching Speculative Fiction: A Portable Workshop
Anticipation, the 67th World Science Fiction Convention, Montréal, Québec
Thursday, August 6, 2009 at Worldcon – at the Palais des congrès de Montréal
Two Tracks of Programming – Presentations in English and French Running Concurrently

Schedule of English-Language Events (Francophone track listed below)

9:00 – 10:00 – Empower Your Students: Teach Them Science Fiction, Too – Keynote
Award-winning science fiction author and science educator, Julie E. Czerneda, begins the educator program with a frank discussion of how the creativity and reasoned speculation of science fiction are essential tools for scientific literacy and full citizenship in the future your students will inherit.

10:00 – 12:00 Science Fiction and Scientific Literacy – mini workshop
Assess scientific literacy (yours and your students) and learn how to put science fiction to work in your science classroom to develop key components in this hands-on workshop with Donna Young, Lead Educator for the NASA Chandra X-Ray Center EPO Office, and award-winning SF and astronomical illustrator, Jean-Pierre Normand. Materials for classroom use will be provided.

½ hour break to pick up lunch

• Les Jardins food court (level 7), with its variety of fast food selections (deli, salad bar, pizza, prepared dishes), offers fast and efficient service at affordable prices. An adjacent outdoor terrace is open during the summer.

12:30 – 13:30 Brown bag lunch
Join Julie Czerneda for a romp through SF films as she shows examples of “Science, Scientists, and Other Bizarre Notions.” Warning: there will be laughter as well as some surprises.

13:30 – 14:00 – Introducing AboutSF – Presentation
AboutSF provides the foundation for the Anticipation workshop. A special DVD/CD with over a hundred files goes home with workshop members as a resource. David-Glenn Anderson is the tour guide.

14:00 – 16:00 – Stretching the mind while thinking outside the box – mini workshops/presentations
Cathy Palmer-Lister, Lynn E Cohen-Koehler, Lindalee Stuckey, Maaja Wentz, Sharon Rawlins, Eric Choi, and Susan Fichtelberg explore reading, writing and everything else within a classroom. A question may be asked: You have read H. G. Wells Invisible Man. Would you like to be invisible? Why? Why not? A smorgasbord of books, movies, arts, social science and other subject will be covered.

16:00 – 17:00 – Final words — Open discussion and evaluation
Graduates without Anticipation membership may purchase a $25 special membership to attend Anticipation. Tour the art show, browse the dealer’s room or attend after 5 pm programming.

Schedule of French-Language Events

L’enseignement et la science-fiction : un atelier exploratoire
Anticipation, le 67e congrès mondial de science-fiction, Montréal, Québec
le jeudi 6 août 2009 au Palais des congrès de Montréal

10h30 – 11h30 – La place de la science-fiction à l’école – Table ronde Georges Henri Cloutier, Julie Czerneda, Jean Pettigrew, Daniel Sernine
La SF mérite-t-elle une plus grande place à l’école au Québec? Dans quelle mesure pourrait-elle faciliter l’accès à la lecture pour les garçons, ou l’apprentissage des sciences? Est-il possible de l’enseigner dans le cadre des programmes actuels? Peut-elle enrichir l’enseignement d’autres sujets? Le projet “About SF” peut-il être transposé au Québec ou au Canada francophone? Ou le travail a-t-il déjà été fait?

11h30 – 12h – La science-fiction au secondaire – Présentation Éric Gauthier
Comment parle-t-on de la science-fiction au secondaire? Un auteur expérimenté explique comment on retient l’attention des écoliers du secondaire en les introduisant aux concepts fondamentaux du conte, de la narration et de la science-fiction.

pause d’une demi-heure pour aller chercher à manger

12h30 – 13h30 – Repas – Films (facultatifs; en anglais)
Dans l’autre salle, Julie Czerneda présente une série de films de SF afin d’illustrer la représentation de la science, des scientifiques et autres bizarreries incomprises de Hollywood.

13h30 – 15h – La science-fiction au primaire – Présentation Philippe Collin, Michèle Laframboise
Comment parle-t-on de la science-fiction au primaire? Deux intervenants aguerris discutent de leurs méthodes pour présenter la science-fiction aux plus jeunes en fournissant quelques exemples.

15h – 16h – Les auteurs à l’école – Table ronde Jean-Pierre Guillet, Danielle Martinigol, Francine Pelletier
Comment les auteurs font-ils, en une heure, pour présenter à la fois la science-fiction et leurs ouvrages? La science-fiction est-elle bien accueillie à l’école?

16h – 17h – Conclusions — Discussion générale et bilan

Les participants à l’atelier qui ne sont pas inscrits à Anticipation ont droit à un rabais de 25$ sur toute inscription (pour une journée, pour la fin de semaine ou pour les cinq jours). Visitez l’exposition de tableaux, magasinez dans la salle de ventes ou assistez aux tables rondes. Restez le jeudi ou passez toute la fin de semain.

Ad Adstra and Inspiration

I’ve taken a long hiatus from this blog, mostly because of school. This year I’m directing my new play, “Invisible Aliens Stole My Gym Shorts.” Between school, the play and having a home life, I haven’t blogged since the fall. Another reason is that one of my students came across this anonymous blog!

At first I hesitated to write, in case my students started reading the entries but I’ve decided that’s just vanity. I’m sure my students are more concerned with their own things. I also doubt that student outed me to any other students. Really, what would be the point? This is a book-review and writing blog, not something salacious or even teen-friendly.

Does that mean I will be watching what I write from now on? Not really. I’m not writing as a school-teacher but as a reader, writer and fan of books and movies. I’m also not ashamed of anything I’ve said here.

So much has happened since October so I’ll just begin with my current obsession: SF. I have recently completed an 88 page detailed outline of my latest novel and it’s pure SF. Elements of comedy are creeping in as I expand the tragic outline into chapters but what can you expect? I’m a bit wacky. Melodrama makes me yawn but tragedy brings out my naughty side. I’ve always considered Othello a comedy, for example. Shakespeare expects us to believe that an intelligent, noble man is convinced by Iago’s slight of hand and a lost handkerchief that his wife is cheating? It’s farcical material, just begging for a comic rewrite. Race, obsession, jealousy, rage: wouldn’t you rather laugh than cry?

My newest story is about spores from outer space, young women’s obsessions with their weight, a family-run Chinese food restaurant and, of course, alien lifeforms taking over the Earth. Once again, not exactly laugh-out-loud material. The protagonist’s father is dying and nobody can figure out why. My only hope is that like Terry Pratchett writing about the Grim Reaper or Christopher Moore writing about just about anything, writing the story out can turn the direst scenario into something amusing.

For once it’s very nice to know where the plot is going before I begin. After completing two timed-writing contests for practice (JulNoWriMo and the 3-day novel contest) I’m finished with writing without planning. What I have learned from these challenges is how to write faster. My new goal? Write better, at a steady pace so that I can finish at least a draft by WorldCon. This is the big convention for SF fans, editors, publishers and writers, and since it will be in Montreal, Canada this year, I just have to have a manuscript by August 6, 2009.

I have a bookcase of ‘how-to’ books on writing. It’s time to bring my latest MS to a high polish. I may not have the novel editor-ready for World Con but if I can make a few contacts, maybe someone will agree to read the manuscript when it is.

I will blog more about Ad Astra at a later date. It was a thrill meeting Canadian SF authors and editors and I had lots of fun picking up books at the Bakka display.

Happy reading.

I won! Thanks Cee Cee.

Cee Cee at Booksplurge announced the winners of her book giveaway. I have won a book called GERM just for entering her contest. It looks like an ideal addition to my Dystopian Challenge list.

A friend in Australia read my list and made a few suggestions of his own:

  • The Crysalids, Day of the Triffids and The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham.

(I’ve read all but one Wyndham on the Wikipedia list)

It looks like I’ll have no trouble rounding out my list…

Dystopians need challenges too

Meandering about the blogosphere, I found the Dystopian Challenge. Lisa at Books.Lists.Life even supplies a handy link to Wikipedia definitions and a Dystopian Reading List.

Many of my favorite high school reads are listed: A Clockwork Orange, Handmaid’s Tale, 1984, Brave_New_World, Fahrenheit_451, Animal_Farm, plus William Gibson’s cyberpunk novels like Neuromancer, Idoru and Mona Lisa Overdrive.

In university I read Sir Thomas Moore’s Utopia, and Plato’s Republic, Voltaire’s Candide and Francois_RabelaisPantagruel, Gargantua and Le Tiers Livre. For ‘fun’ I read Naked Lunch and then watched the film which made me squirm.

More recently I have read The Giver, Oryx and Crake, Snow crash and the teen dystopia Feed, which I reviewed here

I read more than I view but I love dystopian films, especially:

Brazil
Metropolis
Johnny_Mnemonic (Ice-T good, Keneau Reeves, okay)
A Clockwork Orange
Minority Report
Blade Runner (one of the few films I’ve watched more than once)

The Dystopia Challenge seems made for me. By November, I have to read 5 books in one of my favorite forms. Here’s my list so far:

Never Let Me Go
Pretties
Welcome to the Monkey House (I need to reread this one)

I’m looking for brand new Dystopias or novels aimed at teens to fill out the rest of my list. Any suggestions?

Happy (unhappy) reading.

Draft #1 — Done!

I’m almost afraid to read it today but this is it. I’ve finished the first draft of my novel. It’s actually my third novel-length manuscript but does my first, desk drawer effort, count? How about the one I wrote in my sleep for the “Three day novel contest?”

This, of course, is the big one. This one I’ll polish up so shiny somebody will have to publish it. That is the point, right?

My husband took me out to celebrate last night. He is supportive. I am secretive and sensitive about my creative process. I never tell him what I’m working on until it’s done. When I described it to him, over wine and Ahi tuna, he told me he liked it. This is not a given. My husband reads so widely in the genre, I’ve given up buying SF for him. His wit is so incisive, I was afraid of getting cut. Fortunately, he liked it.

Enough bragging, it’s time to start editing.

Happy reading.

Feed

M.T. Anderson‘s Feed is a young adult (14+) dystopia. In it, three quarters of humanity, those with money to spend, have a ‘feed’ interface in their brains. Implanted when they are very young, the feed supplied through this wetware allows them to look up facts, chat each other without typing on a computer and receive messages. Most of these messages are ads.

Given the advantages of instant, encyclopedic knowledge, young people use “the Feed” to get ahead at School (TM). That’s right, in this satire of consumerism run amok, the term school has been trademarked and is owned by a big corporation. Much of what they learn is how to be compliant and even compulsive consumers. The shallowest of all is a clone of Abraham Lincoln. Ouch!

As an adult, I appreciate the world-building and snarkiness of Anderson’s imagination. These teenagers will strike real teen readers as very dumb, because they are. Stultified by dependence on the feed to supply thoughts and vocabulary, they have become ultimate consumers. They shop compulsively and change their hair and dermal “lesions” in accordance to fashion and political pressure. Many fritter their funds on high tech Disneylands like the Moon or on-line drug experiences that ‘crash’ their brains.

It’s as if mall rats have overrun the world, caught up in the mazes of major corporations. Their only legacy: pollution and waste.

The almost love story between the protagonist, a son of privilege, and the object of his fascination (a home-schooled girl from a family made poor by refusing the feed) is challenging and sure to frustrate readers. Teen aged boys and girls will ask: What’s wrong with this guy? Doesn’t he have a heart? A focused thought? Can anyone be that shallow? At the same time they will know the answer: it’s the feed. He is the victim of mental interference and can’t help being a stunned bunny.

This is the kind of book I would have lapped up at that age. Speculative, idea-oriented and, despite the love interest, not at all romantic. I give it two hairy opposable thumbs up.

Literary Spec Fic — Descant 122

Currently reading: Descant 122, Fall 2003, Volume 34, Number 3.

Descant is one of those recherché words, beloved of literary magazines. The editors of these publications eschew titles like ‘Bob’s lit mag,’ often in favour of fancy language. In my opinion, “descant” wins the prize for most esoteric. Not only did I have to look up what the word meant, but once I looked it up, I couldn’t decide which of the many meanings applied to the magazine. I guess that’s the point. In fact, the title is so lit-worthy, a US publication uses it too.

Enough blather. I’m really enjoying Descant’s SF issue. In high school my favorite reads were science fiction. My idols were Issac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut and Arthur C. Clark. My favorite books were dystopian: Clockwork Orange, 1984, Brave New World and Handmaid’s Tale. I also loved Ringworld and Flowers for Algernon.

It’s so nice to find Speculative Fiction and literature overlapping again. Before SF became a genre, some of the books I’ve listed were simply considered literature. When Margaret Atwood’s recent Oryx and Crake reads like mainstream SF, why impose strict distinctions?

Linguistic pyrotechnics notwithstanding, I’m often bored by realism. Hemmingway-type prose leaves me cold when applied to ordinary events and locales. I often prefer journalism to realistic fiction, especially when the writer plays with subjectivity and uses ‘new journalism’ techniques, borrowed from fiction. Naturally, I’m not in favour of journalists ‘making it up.’ When a writer does that, they might as well make up the whole world.

An author has to flex his imagination to get my attention. World-building and speculation based on current trends in politics, culture and science turn my crank. I guess that’s the link between my fondness for SF and my Rabelais fetish.

Happy speculative reading.